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Most Ezreal guides I've read recommend maxing Mystic Shot(Q) first but recently I see a lot of progamers and high ELO players max his Essence Flux(W) first after getting the token point in Mystic Shot(Q) and Arcane Shift(E). However, I still see other high end players max Mystic Shot(Q) first, too.

After checking up on the exact values of the skills I see Essence Flux(W) having better scaling base damage at a higher Mana cost as well as having the advantage of the attack speed buff/debuff scaling with level.

His Mystic Shot(Q) gets a shorter cooldown at the cost of higher mana cost with lower damage increase than Essence Flux(W).

Is it always better to max Essence Flux(W) first or does it depend on specific situations in which it is better to max one over the other?

Note: I only mean AD Ezreal, not AP Ezreal and with a build like Boots->Phage->Sheen->Trinity

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I personally see it as a matter of player preference. –  Ender Aug 20 '12 at 15:45
    
AP Ezreal should ALWAYS build Lichbane over Trinity Force. –  Jay Aug 20 '12 at 17:34
    
Don't encourage people to go AP Ezreal. It is a troll build and doesn't work anymore (one of the most recent patches should see to that) –  ccreason Aug 20 '12 at 21:12
    
@ccreason, I am unsure which patch you are referring to. I went back several month worth of patches and the only remake they had for Ezreal is lowering the mana cost on his Essence flux and Trueshot barrage. So I'm not sure why you think it "doesn't work anymore." I personally prefer AD Ezreal but I certainly wouldn't consider AP Ezreal a troll build. –  Jay Aug 21 '12 at 20:21
    
Well, for one thing, AP Ezreal relies on three spells to do his AP burst, one of which is his escape, and the other two having rather large cooldowns that, I admit, can be cooled down faster with his Q; however, that is AD damage, and an AP Ez would rather put points in his W and E than his Q to get more damage out. The AD ratios are better than his AP ratios, and the AP ratios supposedly did/will get a massive nerf soon. If not, I still think that an AD Ez would outclass an AP Ez. however, I believe than an Hybrid build is better than both if allowed to freefarm for eons. –  ccreason Aug 21 '12 at 20:41
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I generally max my W first for three reasons:

Harass
Buffing teammates
Stacking my passive

The reason I get it to harass, is because you can shoot your opposing lanemate through his minions, and it makes it slightly harder for him to farm with that debuff.

The buff it provides your teammates when pushing towers down is paltry at best if you max it second. Maxing it first, however, means that it will be Lv 4-5 by the time your towers are going down. Its a very good utility spell for the team!

His W makes stacking his passive extremely easy early game. If your support is doing it right, you can get 2-3 stacks on your passive with just one W! That means you're able to harass or farm at a +30% rate over your opponent BEFORE taking into account the debuff placed on him by said W.

Sure its not nearly as spammable as his Q, but you use less mana when harassing for slightly less damage, but the ability to harass through minions where he thinks he's safe from your wrath. Besides, the buff/debuff (damage too!) scales well with levels, whereas the Q only scales damage (the CDR doesn't scale at all, so why bother maxing it first?) and isn't as useful early game (in my opinion).

Hope that helps!

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The Q's CD does scale with level. It's 6 / 5.5 / 5 / 4.5 / 4. –  Jay Aug 21 '12 at 0:48
    
I meant the CD it gives for your other abilities! Sorry for the miscommunication! :) –  ccreason Aug 21 '12 at 14:08
    
After the recent (early August) nerf bat taken to Ezreal, I haven't noticed any changes in what I mentioned in my answer regarding his W. I still recommend leveling his W first for harass, but if you've got a killbot lane going on with, say, Ezreona or Ezcrank, then his Q is worth it for the damage buff it received. –  ccreason Sep 5 '12 at 20:40
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This depends a lot on how you are going to build your Ezreal and who you are laning against.

AP Ezreals will always want to max their W first since that is the skill that is used to nuke harass their enemy.

If you are building AD Ezreal at bottom against another AD, it is smart to alternate between Q and W to balance the benefit of the faster Q and the W's attack speed debuff. This allows advantageous straight up trades with the enemy AD carry.

In the case you are laning against an AP champion with an AD Ezreal then maxing the Q first will result in better trades.

Please note that the one weakness of AP Ezreal and maxing W first is the inability to push very fast. W is a Champion only skill so you can't use to against minions and with less points in Q (higher CD) he can't push as much. In most cases this is perfectly fine early game but in mid game it might become a problem if the enemy keep pushing to your tower and you lose a lot of CS because of it.

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I updated my question with a note that i only mean AD Ezreal. An example of W first is youtube.com/… –  dbemerlin Aug 20 '12 at 17:37
    
@Jay I wish to note that I pay an extremely brutal AP ezrael and I max Q first for many reasons. I don't wish to defend my position here, only to say that its viable to do so. –  Ender Aug 20 '12 at 19:37
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